ABS Provides Guidance For Gas Fuelled Ships

| USA, Houston TX

DSME shipyard

“It is a matter of when, not if, LNG will be a commonly-selected fuel source” — Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS CEO

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has released its Guide for Propulsion and Auxiliary Systems for Gas Fuelled Ships. The new ABS Guide has been issued in response to the industry’s need for technical guidance for new construction and existing vessel conversion. Considered to be the most comprehensive available to the industry, it provides criteria for the arrangements, construction, installation and operation of machinery components and systems for vessels fueled by natural gas. The objective of the guidance is to minimize operating risks and promote the protection of the vessel, its crew and the environment.

Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS CEO and President says that the shipping industry needs to examine the issues surrounding the transition from traditional fuels to liquefied natural gas (LNG), to verify that solutions provide an equivalent level of safety and reliability to those established for LNG storage and transportation. “With ship operators facing economic pressures from fuel costs combined with impending regulations aimed at reducing exhaust gas emissions, particularly for sulfur oxide (SOx), LNG fueled propulsion systems could be a practical and beneficial solution. It is a matter of when, not if, LNG will be a commonly-selected fuel source and we need a sound basis for ship designs,” says Wiernicki.

More than 50 years of ABS’ experience with the handling and storage of LNG on board ships, many with dual-fuel diesel propulsion plants has been incorporated into the Guide. Consideration is also given to industry standards including the IMO Resolution MSC.285(86) Interim Guidelines on Safety for Natural Gas-Fuelled Engine Installations in Ships, the International Gas Carrier Code and the IMO International Code of Safety for Gas-Fuelled Ships, currently under development.

Significant contributions to the Guide also came from a joint research project with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) and A.P. Moller Maersk to develop a LNG-fuelled containership. Concluded earlier this year, the project addressed the design and technical issues surrounding the use of a 7,000 TEU containership burning LNG as fuel for both propulsion and power generation, with ABS providing Approval in Principle for the resulting design. The study also assessed operational, economic and regulatory impacts from the use of LNG as a fuel source.

Results from the study were presented by DSME in March during industry’s premiere gas conference, Gastech, in Amsterdam. Found to be of particular interest were the considerations given to the type and arrangement of fuel tanks used to provide the utmost safety for the crew and to minimize capacity reductions. The study found that the initial costs for LNG fueled propulsion could be recouped within a three to 10-year period, depending upon the applied LNG prices.  (Editor note: Vessel hulls are typically designed for a 40 year operational life span.)

“Natural gas has been used as a fuel for small regional non-LNG carriers working in environmentally sensitive areas,” says ABS Director, Environmental Technology Yoshi Ozaki who led ABS’ involvement in the project. “This study further supports technical feasibility of LNG fuel and suggests promise for a viable extended business line for LNG suppliers.”

Founded in 1862, ABS is a leading international classification society devoted to promoting the security of life, property and the marine environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities.

This item compiled using information from an ABS press release.

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